According to recent press reports, some of the biggest companies on the Internet are failing to cancel online subscriptions after being requested to do so by their customers, or these companies are making cancellation so difficult that customers are unable to cancel when they try. PC World magazine, in an article published in December 2006, identified the worst offenders:
- MSN Internet
- Real Rhapsody
- Real SuperPass
Some of the companies made cancelling difficult or impossible through a variety of tactics, including:
- Providing no means of cancellation through their websites, or burying cancellation instructions in a way intended to make it extremely difficult for the consumer to find those instructions.
- Requiring the consumer to make a phone call to a "customer service" line in order to cancel, and then placing the consumer on hold for extended periods of times, or having "customer service representatives" who claim not to be able to cancel an account.
- Ignoring or failing to document requests for cancellation sent by email or made over the phone.
- Including various "fine print" provisions in online agreements that make cancellation extremely difficult and/or provide excuses for the company to ignore cancellation requests.
Lawyers for consumers across the country are beginning to investigate these types of practices and a number of lawsuits have already been brought against certain companies. These lawsuits seek to recover damages for injured consumers and also to force the companies to change their systems so that customers can easily and verifiably cancel subscriptions or accounts. One of the law firms investigating these practices is Tycko & Zavareei LLP (www.tzlegal.com), which represents the interests of consumers who have been injured by corporate wrongdoing.
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A number of online companies are in trouble for deceptive practices related to their cancellation policies.
America Online services: Still Difficult to Cancel
If you have ever found yourself frustrated by trying to cancel your online services, you are not alone. A recent report in PC World magazine listed the 13 worst companies for online cancellation procedures. Among those on the list were AOL (America Online), Classmates.com, NetZero, and Napster.com.